Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Why "Plum Blossom" I Ching Numerology?

The macrocosmic changes of the I Ching, those that exist on a cosmic as opposed to a personal scale, can be deciphered through the use of Shao Yong's Plum Blossom Numerology.

 Generally, this particular name is attributed to a story that Shao Yong realized this system in a flash of insight while observing a Plum Blossom.

However, some people in the West might not realize the depth of symbolism the plum blossom has in Chinese culture.

In Chinese cultural art and poetry, the plum blossom is associated with moral fortitude, with perseverance, and with auspicious good fortune. 

It is, in fact, taken as a symbol for the Superior Individual. It has these qualities because of it's beauty and ability to endure even in harsh climates, and its self-reliance in needing very little care.

The Plum Blossom was in fact associated with four qualities, which could be summarized as "yuan", "heng", "li" and "zhen"; the same four words which commence the I Ching, and which embody Virtue among spiritual cultivators.

In the plum blossom, these four words are associated with the four stages in the plum blossom's growth, and the cycle of the seasons:
Yuan: it is born in union with the new year.
Heng: when it blooms this marks the time of steady gain
Li: in its seeding time, there is harmonious bounty
Zhen: in its time of wilting it is the time of contemplation

Thus, the symbol of the Plum Blossom is not just a product of some coincidence, but an ideal image to represent the macrocosmic changes embodied by Shao Yong's numerological system.

At the same time, this sheds light on the significance of Yuan Heng Li Zhen in the larger context of the I Ching as well. As the first four words of the I Ching's text, and a summary of the entirety of the I Ching, the imagery associated with the plum blossom expresses how "Yuan Heng Li Zhen" is a depiction of the entire process of Time, from beginning to end.

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